The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued an open petition calling on the U.S. government to find a bipartisan solution to the Gulf oil spill crisis.
"In this time, we call on you to rise above partisan politics to ensure a comprehensive and effective response to this crisis," the group's statement reads.
Acknowledging that the government is "doubtless receiving many recommendations," the petition emphasizes to federal officials that they should continue to work with stakeholders in the crisis and hold responsible parties accountable.
The statement also asks for a commitment to long term recovery, including steps to prevent future disasters and a response to "yet-unknown needs," as well as a pledge to ensure that help reaches those who are in need.
"The situation that continues to unfold in the Gulf demands a comprehensive, but more importantly, a moral response," the statement reads.
"As we begin to move forward and prepare as a nation for our recovery from this spill, we urge you to remember God's commitment to us and to Creation, and to honor God's vision of health and wholeness for all."
The NCC's call comes as BP is poised to attempt a new strategy to contain the spill involving placing a new containment cap on the ruptured well.
Tests were scheduled to begin on Tuesday but were delayed for more testing in order to ensure that the cap "was absolutely designed to maximize what we would learn from it and minimize any risk under all possible scenarios," Kent Wells, senior vice president of exploration and production at BP told Reuters.
Over 160 million gallons of oil are estimated to have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico since the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig occurred eighty five days ago. Over 1.8 million gallons are spilling daily, according to scientists.
The NCC's petition uses language from a joint resolution released earlier this month from over two dozen faith-based organizations including Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, and Jewish groups.
"As leaders of faith communities in the United States, we write as we prepare, within our community, for the long-term needs of God's children and God's Creation in the Gulf Coast," the July 8 statement reads. "We are watching with distress as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and tragedy unfolds, but our faith traditions teach us that from within this darkness, we may find light."
"We are called by God to use the gifts of this earth wisely, to act as stewards of all creation and to care for our neighbors in need," it continues. "We call on you, our elected leaders, to heed this call to
stewardship, justice and love as you begin to address the short and long-term needs of the Gulf Coast."
Signers on the document include Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice; Marie Dennis, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; Nancy Ratzan, president of the National Council of Jewish Women; Bishop Thomas Hoyt, senior bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Meanwhile, a congregational resource from the NCC's Eco-justice team was released in May containing prayers for those involved and concerned with the spill recovery effort. Various facts on the Gulf of Mexico, American oil and gas exploration in the region, and offshore drilling are also included in the resource.
"While it is easy to express anger and cast blame at the companies who owned, operated and profited from the deep sea exploration, we must also reflect on our own complicity through our endless demand for cheap oil," an introduction to the document states.
"In the face of these uncertainties, we turn to the One who is certain – the One whose creative and recreating power is stronger than any of our human folly," it continues."
"May we heed the call of the Scriptures, humble ourselves and pray that God will forgive our sins and heal the land."